Rich, buttery and absolutely adorable, these chocolate chip shortbread men are a must-have on your Christmas baking list! Made with a classic, four-ingredient recipe and packed full of chocolate chips, they’re great fun to make with little ones and are a delicious alternative to gingerbread men. Go on, give them a try!
Lou’s recipe overview
TASTE: Rich, buttery and melt in your mouth
PROS: Four basic ingredients, no fancy equipment
CONS: Be sure to squeeze well to combine the dough
For me Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a tin of shortbread in the house! Rich, buttery and sprinkled with sugar, it just melts in your mouth as you take a bite, pure indulgence. But what if I said I can take your traditional shortbread biscuit and make it even better?
Move over gingerbread men, there’s a new guy in town and he’s dressed with dark chocolate and he couldn’t be more perfect!
These chocolate chip shortbread men are based on a traditional shortbread recipe giving you most beautiful short texture. They are so easy and quick to whip up a batch for visitors over the festive season. Or pop them in the freezer until you’re ready to bake and have fresh shortbread whenever you want!
I just know that you’ll love this recipe because…
- Super simple is the key and it uses only basic ingredients that you’ll already have in the cupboard
- Dark chocolate chips add an extra indulgence to that beautifully buttery shortbread
- Make ahead and bake from frozen for shortbread whenever you want it
- Completely versatile base recipe, swap out the chocolate or try a different cookie cutter
- One bowl, no fancy equipment – less washing up bonus!
Ingredients and substitutions
Check out my shopping list for ingredients and equipment
I’m not sure if it’s me, but there’s always been this myth out there that shortbread is really tricky to make; but I’m here to tell you its not! In fact it is really easy and you only need five ingredients to make these chocolate chip shortbread men. Here’s what you’ll need…
- Plain Flour or All-Purpose Flour – there are no rising agents in these biscuits
- Unsalted Butter – Make sure that your butter is fridge cold. I recommend weighing out and cubing your butter first then put it back in the fridge while you get everything else ready
- Caster Sugar or Superfine Sugar
- Egg Yolks – Separate your egg yolks and keep them at room temperature become combining into the dough. You can freeze the leftover egg whites or whip up Christmas meringues to go with the shortbread men
- Dark Chocolate Chips – You could go for white chocolate or milk chocolate if you prefer
- Icing Sugar or Writing Icing Tubes
CONVERT TO CUPS: There is a cup conversion option in the recipe card to convert the ingredients. This is automatic and I can’t guarantee the accuracy. For best baking results, I recommend using digital scales and weighing the ingredients.
Equipment you will need
The equipment needed to make these shortbread men is as simple as the ingredients. Here’s what I use to make them…
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Rubber Spatula
- Rolling Pin
- Baking Sheet
- Baking Parchment
- Gingerbread Men Cutters
- Digital Kitchen Scales
Recommended ingredients and equipment
How to make chocolate chip shortbread men
Full measurements and instructions can be found on the recipe card
With just 5 simple steps, this chocolate chip shortbread dough is really easy to make! I go with a traditional rubbing-in method to blend the flour and butter together first. This ensures that all the gluten in the flour is coated by the fat from the flour, giving you that lovely crumbly, melt in your mouth texture.
There are different variations on shortbread out there, where you cream the butter and caster sugar together first, similarly to if you were making a cake. It’s personal preference which method you go for, I go for the rub-in method as I find it gives me the richest and most buttery flavour.
Here’s everything you have to do…
Making the shortbread dough
- Gently rub together the cold butter and plain flour, in a large mixing bowl. Use your fingertips and rub-in until you have a fine sandy texture. Make sure you have no lumps of butter in mixture otherwise you’ll get greasy spots when the shortbread bakes
- Stir through the caster sugar and chocolate chips until the sugar is well-combined and the chocolate evenly distributed
- Add the egg yolks to the mixture and bring everything together into a dough. If you need a little extra liquid to help bind everything, add a small drop of ice cold water
- Shape the dough into a round disc, wrap in clingfilm and
- Chill the dough for 30 minutes in the fridge before rolling it out.
TOP TIP: If the dough isn’t coming together, lightly wet your fingertips with cold water and flick the water over the dough; then continue to bring together. Add the water a tiny bit at a time, just to help the dough bond.
Making the shortbread men
Before rolling out the shortbread dough, leave it for a few moments after taking out of the fridge. If the dough is too cold it will crumble when rolling out.
- Take two sheets of baking parchment about 30cm x 25cm and place the shortbread dough between them
- Roll out the dough between the parchment until it is about 6-10mm thick. If you roll the dough too thin, the chocolate chips will stick out of the shortbread rather than giving you a smooth surface
- Remove one sheet of parchment and use a gingerbread man cutter to cut out your shortbread men
- Carefully transfer the shortbread men to a lined baking sheet using a flat palette knife. Make sure you leave a 2-4cm gap between each biscuit to give them room to spread
- Squeeze any leftover shortbread dough back into a ball and re-roll to make more biscuits
- Chill the shortbread men for 30 minutes before baking.
TOP TIP: Rolling the shortbread between baking parchment means you don’t have to add extra flour which can cause the shortbread to dry out and fall apart.
Baking and decorating the shortbread
When the shortbread dough has chilled, bake the shortbread men at 180C/350F for 10-12 minutes until the edges start to turn golden.
Be careful not to under-bake them as you’ll end up with a doughy texture. And if you over-bake them they’ll be hard and won’t melt in your mouth as we want them to. Check at 10 minutes and give them two more minutes if they’re not quite ready.
When baked, allow the shortbread men to cool on a wire baking rack before adding their features with either icing sugar mixed with water or a writing icing tube.
TOP TIP: If you didn’t want to use icing for the shortbread men’s features, why not try using melted chocolate instead.
Tips for success
Although this shortbread recipe is easy, there are a few things you can do to make sure your shortbread men are perfect every time. Here are a few top tips…
- Fridge cold butter is key – Make sure you keep your butter in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. If warms up too much you can end up with a greasy shortbread dough. Don’t be afraid to pop it back in the fridge to chill if you need to.
- Use a pastry cutter to bring the dough together – If you’re not keen on rubbing in the butter and flour or are worried about ‘hot hands’, a pastry cutter is great for cutting your butter into the flour. Alternatively, you can blitz the ingredients in a food processor with the knife attachment; but don’t overwork it.
- Don’t knead the dough – It’s tempting to knead the dough like a pastry, but for shortbread you want it to melt in your mouth, so the key here is to just squeeze it together. If you knead the dough, you’ll overwork the gluten in the flour which will give you a tough dough. As the dough comes together, tap the dough ball over any loose crumbs or mixture to add them into the mix, then shape into a round disc.
- Add a drizzle of cold water – If the shortbread dough isn’t coming together, lightly wet your fingertips with cold water and flick the water over the dough; then continue to bring together. Add the water a tiny bit at a time, just to help the dough bond. If you add too much water it will become sticky and you’ll have to add extra flour to the dough to dry it out. Too much flour will shorten the shortbread dough and it will fall apart.
- Let the dough rest – once the pastry is made, wrap it in plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This lets the dough chill and relax, so it’s easier to roll out, and also reduces the risk of your pastry cases shrinking when baked.
- Chill the shortbread men before baking – To prevent the shortbread from spreading too much when it’s baking, chill the shortbread men for 30 minutes first. This helps the butter solidify again meaning it doesn’t melt as soon as it hits the oven heat. Therefore the cookies hold their shape, aren’t greasy and taste super buttery.
FAQs about chocolate chip shortbread men
This recipe will make between 12-24 shortbread men depending on what size gingerbread man cookie cutter you use. I like using a larger cutter for gifts, and a smaller one if we’re just eating them at home. The recipe can be easily doubled if you want to make a larger batch.
When the shortbread men and cooled and decorated, they should be keep in an air-tight container at room temperature.
When baked the shortbread best eaten within 5 days, and will last up to 7 days if stored correctly.
Yes you can! The shortbread dough can by made in advance and frozen. You can either freeze the dough as a disc, making sure to wrap it well in clingfilm first, and defrost in the fridge when ready to use.
Or why not cut out the shortbread men and freeze them so they’re to go straight from the freezer into the oven. Freeze the shortbread men on a baking sheet first, then transfer into a freezer-safe airtight container. Then when you’re ready to bake pop them into a preheated oven and bake. They might need a little longer than 10-12 minutes so keep an eye for when they begin to go golden at the edges.
The shortbread will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months if stored correctly.
If you want to bake and then freeze the shortbread men, you can also do so. When fully cooled, place the shortbread men in an air-tight, freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Make sure to allow the shortbread men to fully defrost before eating.
Chocolate Chip Shortbread Men
To make the shortbread dough
- Cube the cold butter and add it into a large mixing bowl with the flour. Rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips or use a pastry cutter until it is a sandy texture and you have no lumps of butter.300 g Plain Flour, 200 g Unsalted Butter
- Add the sugar and chocolate chips and mix everything together until well-combined. If using, add the salt and mix through.100 g Caster Sugar, 100 g Dark Chocolate Chips, Fine Sea Salt
- Add the egg yolks to the dry ingredients and mix everything together to begin to form a shortbread dough.2 Egg Yolks
- Using your hands, squeeze and press the shortbread dough so it starts to form a ball. You might find it easier to tip out onto a lightly floured surface. If needed, add a sprinkle of ice cold water to help the dough come together. It should be still be dry and not sticky.
- Form the shortbread dough into a disc and wrap in clingfilm. Chill the shortbread dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
To make the shortbread men
- Take the shortbread dough out of the fridge and allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before rolling out.
- Take two sheets of baking parchment about 30cm x 25cm and place the shortbread dough between them. Roll out the dough between the parchment, until it is about 6-10mm thick. Remove the top piece of baking parchment.
- With a gingerbread man cookie cutter, cut out your shortbread men and place onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, making sure you leave 2-3cm gap between them to allow for spread when baking.
- Bring together any remaining shortbread dough, and re-roll and cut out more shortbread men.
- Chill the shortbread men in the fridge for another 15-30 minutes before baking.
To bake the shortbread men
- Preheat your oven to 180C/ 350F.
- Bake the shortbread men for 10-12 minutes, until the edges begin to turn golden.
- When baked, allow the shortbread men to cool on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
To decorate the shortbread men
- When the shortbread men are cooled, decorate them adding eyes, mouth and buttons using writing icing.
- Alternatively mix up a thick white icing using icing sugar and cold water, pour into a piping bag fitted with a fine nozzle or snip the end off. Make sure the opening isn’t too wide else the outline will flood out rather than be fine.Icing Sugar
The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.